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air transport[′er ¦tranz‚pȯrt]
a method of transportation by which passengers, mail, and cargo are conveyed by air. The chief advantage of this method is the considerable amount of time saved because of the high speed of the flight. Air transportation began in Europe and America after World War I (1914-18). As a means of transport in France and Germany, for example, it began developing in 1920-21. In the USSR the first air route was established in 1923 (Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod, present day Gorky). In 1970 the air transport system of the USSR connected more than 3,500 cities and populous areas. One of these lines, the Moscow-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok route, together with its branch routes extends over the Ural Region, Western and Eastern Siberia, the Far North, the Yakut ASSR, and the Far East (including the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin Island, and Kamchatka). Similar main routes, branching out in all directions from Moscow and several other centers in the country and known as Union air routes, are interconnected. In addition to the Union air routes more than 2,000 so-called local air routes operate within the USSR. Some 30 to 40 new routes are established each year. Moscow, a major international junction, has direct air connections with almost 200 cities. Major airline terminals are located in the capitals of the Union republics, as well as Leningrad, Novosibirsk, Sverdlovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, and Omsk. The domestic air network of the USSR was 144,000 km long in 1940; in 1950 it was 300,000 km long; in 1960 it was 360,000 km long: and by 1970 it was about 600,000 km long. Aeroflot, the air-line of the USSR, carried 400,000 passengers over these routes in 1940, 1.6 million passengers in 1950, 16 million passengers in 1960, and 68 million passengers in 1969. Aeroflot is now the largest airline in the world. The number and length of its international air routes has increased. In 1958, Soviet air-liners made flights to 16 countries, whereas in 1970 they served 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Sheremet’evo Airport in Moscow is the main international air transport terminal in the USSR; international air traffic is also handled by the airports of such other cities as Leningrad, Kiev, Irkutsk, Odessa, Tashkent, and Khabarovsk.
The development of air transport in the USSR accelerated in the late 1950’s, owing to the use of the Tu-104, Tu-114, 11-18, and An-10 jet airliners, all capable of carrying large numbers of passengers. With the development of the Tu-124 and An-24 jet airliners in the late 1960’s, piston aircraft such as the 11-12, 11-14, and An-2 began to be replaced even on local routes. By 1969 air transport on Union and local air routes was second only to the railroads in passenger traffic (including international traffic). In such areas as the Far East, Central Asia, and the North it is becoming the primary mode of transportation. In 1969 and 1970 the airlines were equipped with the new 11-62, Tu-134, and Tu-154 aircraft for the Union and international routes, and with the Yak-40 and Be-30 for the local air routes. The Mi-8 and Mi-10 jet-thrust helicopters were introduced, supplementing the Mi-4 and Mi-6 passenger helicopters. The Tu-144 airliner, which attains supersonic speeds up to 2,500 km per hour with a passenger load of 120 or more, began to be used in the 1970’s. Automation and computer technology are being adopted widely in air traffic control, as well as in the commercial and technical activities of enterprises, agencies, and airports. The volume of air transport in the USSR amounted to 20 percent of the world total in 1965, and more than 25 percent in 1969. The airlines have a relatively small share of the freight traffic in the USSR (0.055 percent or 1.95 billion tons per kilometer in 1969), but they have a much larger share of the USSR’s total passenger traffic (approximately 14 percent in 1969 as opposed to 10 percent in 1965). Between 1971 and 1975 passenger air transportation is expected to increase by approximately 70 per-cent, which will lead to a further increase in air transport’s share of the country’s total passenger traffic.
In November 1970 the USSR became a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The USSR also cooperates with airline companies and associations in socialist countries, such as TABSO in Bulgaria, MALEV in Hungary, LOT in Poland, and CSA in Czechoslovakia. Soviet 11-18, An-24, and Tu-134 airliners are used in socialist and several European countries.
In capitalist countries air transport is provided by companies owned jointly by the state and private individuals as well as by privately owned companies, which compete with each other and with companies offering other types of transportation. Air transport in the USA is in the hands of 12 major airlines that are closely linked to the largest industrial monopolies and banks. The leading airlines of the USA, Great Britain, France, and other countries operate the pri-mary international air routes. In Great Britain two interconnected airlines—British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA)—are of over-riding importance. BEA operates flights to 27 European countries, and BOAC maintains air routes to countries on other continents. The leading airlines engaged in international air traffic are Air France in France, KLM in The Netherlands, Sabena in Belgium, Lufthansa in West Germany, Alitalia in Italy, Air Canada in Canada, and Air India in India. The largest international air carrier in the capitalist world is Pan American World Airways (USA). In 1969 the 119 member states (excluding the USSR) of the ICAO trans-ported a total of 290 million passengers over regular air routes. Of that number 160.8 million passengers were carried by USA airlines, 15 million by British airlines, 12.1 million by Japanese airlines, 8.1 million by French airlines, and 5.8 mil-lion by Italian airlines. Capitalist countries exploit air transport as a means of bringing pressure to bear on developing countries. The airline companies in the USA are the leaders in the struggle to dominate air transport in the capitalist world.
REFERENCEGrazhdanskaia aviatsiia SSSR: 1917-1967. Moscow, 1968.1968.
V. N. SHAPOSHNIKOV